Support for leaders ensures equitable and strategic approach to resource planning for departments and faculties

Human Resources supports leaders, managers and supervisors with important strategic and process related information about hiring, managing, supporting and leading faculty and staff. We help with common people-focused processes and challenges, including managing teams remotely, responding to the pandemic as a leader, guiding employee career paths, assessing performance, and resolving conflict.

Change management support helps U of A leaders achieve their strategic goals

For the last number of years, Human Resource Services has supported facilities and departments through strategic and transformational change. Our team provides internal consulting services that are designed to align management processes and workforce culture while limiting disruption to people and operations. Innovation and efficiency is achieved by aligning clients strategic objectives and priorities to the strategic focus of the University.

The Organizational Development, Engagement and Health team works to support change at all levels of the organization. In the last 18 months, the team facilitated 24 strategic and transformational change projects across the university, including the development of strategic plans at the university, faculty, department, unit and institute level. Some recently served clients include: VP Research & Innovation (strategic plan), University of Alberta International (strategic plan), School of Public Health, FoMD ObGyn, Women in Science, Engineering and Technology (WISEST) and FoMD Office of Research.

Since 2012, managing change and transformation has also been an important competency within each offering of Gold College. The "Leading Strategically" and "Leading Change" modules for each of the cohorts enhances skills for developing leaders and positions participants to lead transformational change within their own units post-graduation. The work of HRS is high impact and regularly receives recognition from the groups that we serve.

After supporting the Department of Biological Sciences through the development of a four-year strategic plan, Dr. Michael Caldwell, past Chair of the department shared “I was convinced by my Assistant Chair to invite the HRS Strategic and Transformational Change Team (STCT) to assist me and my executive team to develop an academic department strategic plan driven by active engagement with all possible stakeholders in and out of our unit,” says Michael. “The presence of professionals as those in the STCT at the U of A, who can facilitate such transformative change within academic units, has a value that cannot be measured but must instead be experienced to understand both the extreme value and impact they are able to make.”

As the university implements the new Service Excellence Transformation operating model, strategic and transformational change will become more important than ever. To learn more about this practice area, please visit the STCT webpage.

Job evaluation ensures fair and equitable pay structures across the institution

Establishing standardized position descriptions and evaluating jobs is a critical element of the university’s compensation system. To be effective, the process requires active engagement of departments and faculties, supervisors, employees and our job designers and job evaluation analysts. Unfortunately, misunderstanding about how job evaluation functions and the important role it plays can lead to client dissatisfaction. Continuous improvement within these processes improves understanding and ensures that the processes lead to equitable outcomes.

“My interpretation of the job evaluation process was it is a method to ensure a thorough review of all job descriptions at the U of A completed by a neutral party, who is trained and skilled in the job evaluation exercise,” explains Yvette Labiuk, the assistant chair of administration in the Department of Oncology.

 The value of job evaluation at the university is to ensure equity across campus for all positions.  

Yvette Labiuk, assistant chair of administration in the Department of Oncology

To improve client understanding and provide better value in this service function, the Job Evaluation unit created an updated document for clients, to be shared prior to an evaluation, explaining the evaluation tools (Aiken/Hay), provide an overview of each factor considered in the evaluation, how the factors are applied and a more specific explanation of the job evaluation process.

“The individual is qualified to assign a pay grade to a position based on the Job Fact Sheet using the Aiken Plan,” adds Yvette.

A revised process for job audits was also developed including sending questions to the employee ahead of time to ensure they have adequate time to prepare for the discussion.

To ensure clients understand the evaluation outcome, a new evaluation results document is shared with clients post evaluation, which shows how factors were applied in the evaluation process (what factors changed, which did not), and what comparator positions were reviewed.

“The job evaluation consultant shares their expertise with the employee and manager, allowing transparency throughout the process,” Yvette explains.

Yvette describes that she appreciates the transparency of the process. The key message is that the evaluation process is about the job, not the individual holding the position.

“This immediately creates an understanding and respect for the process for the employee as well as the supervisor. Any of my staff members who have gone through the process have been respectful of the outcome, and I believe this is all due to the way the process is managed by the job design and evaluation consultant. Personally, I appreciate that a central unbiased unit is responsible for the evaluation outcomes, as this ensures a systemic process is used to consistently rank all roles on campus. It is reassuring to know all positions have the compensation attached to the role using a central model and process,” Yvette shares.

Helping faculties and departments through layoffs, temporary layoffs and budget cuts

The significant budget cuts facing the university over the last year and into the future have been extremely difficult, not just for the affected employees but also the supervisors and the HR team members that support the process. Recognizing the significant impact it has on an employee’s life, career and family, making a decision to lay off an employee is one of the hardest decisions a manager must make. To minimize the number of disruptions required in the last fiscal year, Human Resources has played an important role supporting faculties, departments and the university in their planning. Activities have included:

  • Identifying opportunities to move faculty and staff internally, reducing disruption
  • Reducing external recruitment efforts through tightened hiring controls, offering cost savings
  • Guiding leaders, managers and supervisors through the layoff process
  • Processing an extremely high volume of recall
  • Coordinating new hiring controls using the Recruitment and Advertising database and the job posting process
  • Ensuring laid off employees had access to the resources following employment disruption
  • Using creative problem solving to find team and unit process improvements and efficiencies
  • Moving the post-doc positions to the Careers site to streamline posting procedures
  • Helping departments through redesign and reorganizations
  • Working collaboratively with departments under significant stress in planning return to work strategies effectively. This includes analyzing needs, consulting, providing preventative strategies, and maximizing return-to-work effectiveness while minimizing stress and mitigating potential burnout.

As the SET operating model continues to roll-out, our teams will continue to support employees and the leaders through these difficult decisions and actions. To seek support, please contact your HR Service Partner.

Workplace advice line offers support to leaders

If leaders, supervisors and managers are faced with a workplace conflict and want to consult an expert, they can call the workplace advice line free for coaching, strategies and help with unusual behaviour, bullying, conflict and termination. This service is offered through our Employee and Family Assistance Program, and is confidential (except for threat of harm to self or others). Professional advice and guidance ensures the steps we take to resolve an issue are safe and respectful for faculty and staff.